Following the McInerney Ford Gold Medal dinner debate has raged as to whether the current structure of the state’s Premier football competition is correct.
Some said the evening was controversial, but it was healthy to see some passion, as for too long people at all levels have accepted the status quo. Had a vote been taken that night on a number of issues we believe that the board and the powers that be at Football West would have found that they are heading down a path on their own, and not one that has the support of those actually playing and coaching the game. A warning has been sounded, it would be wise to listen and not plough on regardless.
Essentially, there are several key issues at the root of the problems. The first being the naming of the team that wins the league, and the title given to the team that wins the finals series. This year they were referred to as Premiers and League Champions. May we suggest that next year the team that finishes top of the League be called the “League Champions” and the team that wins the finals series be called the “Grand Final Winners?”
The whole finals issue is a sore point with some. The argument being that in the Hyundai A league there is no cup competition, so there is a place for Finals football. In the state league competition we have the Soccer Pools Cup, so do we need finals football? There are pros and cons for both arguments.
If the finals are to remain surely a top four makes more sense, where first plays fourth and second plays third. It would be interesting to see these games played over two legs home and away, enabling each club to gain some financial reward from the gate and bar takings. One to be played on a Saturday the other on a Sunday, so both fixtures don’t clash. The team finishing top playing on the Saturday so they have one extra day’s recovery, should they make the Grand Final.
The Grand Final should be played at a neutral venue, as it was this year, however Football West should man the gate and the takings be split between the two finalists. After all they have made it to the Grand Final; they deserve a share of the spoils. The host club can make their money over the bar and through the canteen.
We have been advised that the Night Series has been restructured this year, and once again administrators put themselves in a position where they could face a problem in the future. With three groups the top teams will progress and ‘the best two third placed teams.’ There is a distinct possibility that two of the third placed teams, or worse all three could end up on the same points and goal difference. If that is the case what happens then? Why create the possibility of such a situation?
The prize money this year is going to be $8000 for the winner, $4000 for the runner up and $500 each for the third and fourth placed teams. The latter seems an almost laughable amount by comparison but at least there is some money being made available.
The question that has to be raised is why is so much attention being paid to the Night Series, which is essentially a pre-season tournament? A tournament in which players are not paid, and after its completion many go and sign for other clubs. Many clubs enter the tournament with the view that it is purely a way to have competitive matches as part of their pre-season, and if they progress it is a bonus. It is, to all intents and purposes a version of the FA Charity Shield, it has no bearing on the season ahead. Surely therefore the funding would be better channelled into the league, and more money filtered down to the more teams over a season? Would that not enhance the overall standard? Would it not also help clubs who are currently staying afloat thanks to a few wealthy benefactors?
Another suggestion is if the night series is to have more credibility, why not play it as an ongoing competition throughout the season, midweek under lights? Would that not have some appeal if promoted properly?
There are always plenty of views and opinions, but the post Gold Medal feeling is that people are not listening to what the players, coaches and clubs want. Then again the Board are charged with leading the game forward. But to lead on without the support of your members is a dangerous path, hopefully dialogue will be opened and not via the standing committee who it appears are not representative of the majority.